Libraries use call numbers to organize their books and enable patrons to locate them. To keep the books in order,┬álibrary workers conduct a time-consuming and tedious task called “shelf-reading.” Workers look at the call numbers on the spines of each book in the library, one at a time, to make sure they are in the correct places. ShelvAR is an augmented reality shelf-reading system for Android smart phones that reduces time spent, increases accuracy, and produces an inventory of the books on their shelves as a byproduct.

Shelf-reading in a library is a sorting task, but with keys that are fairly complicated. In academic libraries, for example, the Library of Congress call numbers (LC numbers) are used for organizing books. Because the call numbers are long and complicated,and often break across lines it is easy for library workers to make mistakes. We would like to automate this task, saving the library time and increasing accuracy.

Our solution involves tagging the spine of each book with a 3/8″ tag that encodes the book’s LC number.Our tags directly encode the call number, so Internet access is not required for the system to work. Our goal is to allow the user to scan an entire shelf of books at a time, rather than having to handle the books one at a time (as is currently done).

We selected augmented reality for this application because it is the easiest way for a human to double-check the work of the app. Sometimes the app will fail to read a tag, and so the user needs to verify that all books on the shelf have been successfully scanned. Using augmentations the user can very quickly visually determine whether or not all books are in order.